2023 Afton Express Annual Report Now Available

The CSPDC is pleased to present the 2023 Annual Report for the Afton Express Commuter Bus Service. The Afton Express launched in September 2021 and has grown each year since. With just over two years of operations under our belt, the Afton Express has become a fixture in the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro community – connecting commuters from their homes in the Valley to jobs, healthcare, shopping, and other opportunities in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

In 2023, the Afton Express provided 16,482 passenger trips between the Shenandoah Valley and the Charlottesville Metropolitan region – a nearly 60% increase from 2022. The report provides a look at some of the highlights of the year, such as the expanded schedule implemented in February 2023. Performance metrics, such as ridership by month, stops, and individual trips are also included.

A new feature in this year’s report looks at the impact of the Afton Express. Using data collected through our RideShare Commuter Assistance Program, we can quantify the impact of the service by looking at the reduction of single-occupancy vehicle trips, the amount of money saved by commuters, and emissions prevented. Of course, this analysis uses data collected from just a portion of our riders, so the actual impact is potentially even more significant.

When measuring our performance for the past year, the most important metric is how well are we meeting the needs of our riders. By surveying riders, we gain important insight into the passenger experience. Feedback from passengers plays an important role in the planning of future service enhancements. Responses to a rider survey helped us create a passenger profile. This information and more can be found in the report.

The Annual Report may be viewed online HERE.

The CSPDC would like to thank our partners, without whom the Afton Express would not be possible.


The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bike Walk Summit Returns!

After a COVID-19 pandemic hiatus, the Harrisonburg Rockingham Bike Walk Summit returns on April 12, 2024. The Bike Summit will highlight the potential for economic development when transportation and recreation meet, and will feature Ryan Hale, CEO of Laneshift, as a keynote speaker. Ryan has extensive experience in helping to plan and develop the successful trail system in rural Northwest Arkansas. The Bike Summit will be held 8 am – 4 pm at The Loft at Liberty St. in Harrisonburg and will provide local leaders and community members to gather and learn ways to implement bike and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in the region.

The 2024 Harrisonburg Rockingham Bike Walk Summit is free, but registration is encouraged. Click here to register.

2024 Watershed Wellness Mini-Grant – Application Cycle Now Open

The CSPDC Watershed Wellness Mini-Grant is a reimbursement grant that provides up to $3,500 in non-match funding for constructing practical, cost-effective, and ready-to-go best management practice (BMP) projects that improve water quality and reduce runoff in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Funding is available for localities and non-profits within the five-county CSPDC region. Funding is provided through the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) program.

The application is available from Wednesday, February 28 and closes on Friday, March 29, 2024. Projects must be constructed by December 20, 2024.

The program’s main goal is establish a simple, streamlined BMP grant application that leads to the construction of BMPs and supports the state’s Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction goals. The 2024 Watershed Wellness Mini-Grant Guide details the grant goals, requirements, eligible activities, and timeline.

Download the 2024 Watershed Wellness Application, and submit the application and requested attachments to CSPDC WIP Coordinator Zach Beard at zach@cspdc.org.

CSPDC Makes Progress Toward Renovation of the Lewis Street Transit Hub

The Lewis Street Transit Hub rehabilitation project is well underway. Looking at the hub today it might appear that nothing is happening – but in the background the CSPDC project team has been working hard to bring this project to life.

The team completed the engineering phase of the project at the end of 2023, and CSPDC issued an Invitation to Bid in late January. While awaiting bids from prospective contractors, CSPDC staff worked with the City of Staunton to identify a location for BRITE buses to temporarily hub while the Lewis Street lot is unavailable during construction. Finding a location that is accessible to passengers who use a wheelchair or mobility device and that allows all passengers to board and alight safely was critical.

In early March, CSPDC staff hosted a live bid opening. In the coming weeks, the project team will ensure the bids submitted are complete and competitive and hope to announce the award of a contract by the end of March.

Construction is expected to begin in April and should last approximately four months. When complete, the renovated transit hub will be a tremendous asset to the BRITE Bus system and Downtown Staunton.


Town of Glasgow Adopts Update to Comprehensive Plan

On February 13, 2024, Glasgow Town Council adopted the 2024 update to the Town of Glasgow Comprehensive Plan. The town is required to prepare, adopt, and regularly update the comprehensive plan for the purpose of guiding current and future development. The 2024 update to the comprehensive plan was prepared by the Glasgow Planning Commission, with technical assistance from the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission.

The planning process spanned 14 months, beginning in October 2022 and concluding in November 2023. During that time, the Planning Commission and CSPDC conducted extensive research on local and regional demographics, economic metrics, physical and natural features, transportation demands, and housing needs. Glasgow residents were encouraged to provide input through participation in the Glasgow Community Survey, from April 2023 to June 2023. Town Council and the Planning Commission also held a joint public hearing to consider public input and adoption of the comprehensive plan update on January 9, 2024. Local stakeholders are currently seeking opportunities to implement recommendations presented in the updated comprehensive plan.

ARC READY Local Governments Program Initiated in January 2024

On January 19, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) launched the READY Local Governments program as one of their READY Appalachia capacity-building initiatives. The READY Local Governments funding provides no-cost training to assist local government representatives with identifying, securing, managing, and implementing federally sourced projects. The kick-off announcement included a Notice of Solicitation of Applicants to guide potential participants that can be viewed HERE. 

No match is required for this virtual, nine-week program scheduled to begin in spring 2024. Interested parties can apply for the initial READY Local Government training program through February 29th. Course capacity is limited to 180 local government officials, with no more than two representatives per community.

To further assist communities, local governments are eligible for up to $50K in funding to initiate in-house capacity-building projects after completing the training program. No match is required. For more information on the READY Local Governments program, visit this ARC webpage.

CSPDC Commission Endorses Rockbridge Airport Feasibility Study Application

Following a presentation by former Rockbridge County Supervisor Buster Lewis, the Commissioners endorsed a Resolution of Support for the Rockbridge Region General Aviation Airport Feasibility Study at the February 5, 2024 meeting. The Rockbridge region is exploring the possibility of a General Aviation Airport in the area. The Virginia Department of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration can partially fund a feasibility study, which, in turn, would provide for an in-depth analysis of the potential project, a market condition analysis, an in-depth look at competition, and recommendations for a site.  CSPDC  will assist Rockbridge County, the City of Buena Vista, and the City of Lexington, with this initiative by applying for state and federal funding to conduct a feasibility study and administering the planning grant(s), if awarded.

CSPDC Regional Planner Completes Commuter Choice Certificate Program

Paula Melester, a Regional Planner on the CSPDC’s Transportation Team recently completed the Commuter Choice Certificate Program.

The Commuter Choice Certificate program, offered through the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, is a prominent professional development program in the field of sustainable transportation. This comprehensive program takes two years to complete, with each participant required to earn 80 credits through synchronous and asynchronous online courses, homework assignments, and educational webinars. The program equips participants with specialized knowledge and practical skills essential for addressing the complex challenges of urban mobility. Through a carefully curated curriculum, participants delve into topics such as alternative transportation modes, transit-oriented development, congestion mitigation strategies, and policy advocacy. With a strong emphasis on hands-on learning and real-world applications, the program empowers individuals like Paula to become catalysts for positive change in their communities, promoting environmentally friendly and equitable transportation options that enhance the quality of life for all.

Paula will use this experience in her work on transportation and transit projects within the CSPDC region – particularly in her role as the Transportation Demand Management Coordinator for the region’s RideShare Commuter Assistance Program.

Augusta County to Receive Virginia Brownfields Assistance Funds

Augusta County will receive $50,000 in Virginia Brownfields Assistance Funds (VBAF) through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership for the Afton Mountain Renaissance project. These funds will allow the County to complete a water and wastewater assessment of the property located at the intersection of U.S. Route 250 and I-64 atop Afton Mountain. Augusta County is working with Timmons Group to complete several tasks to assess existing conditions on the property with the goal of creating a master visioning plan for future development on the site. Through this task, Timmons will conduct a full condition assessment of the existing water and wastewater systems on the site, provide recommendations, and draft a preliminary engineering report for specific water and wastewater needs to support future business development.

Timmons Group previously completed a land record research, compiled boundary survey, topographic survey, and a protected species and historical screening on the site. The Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAWMPO) is currently facilitating a vehicular traffic pattern and pedestrian/bicycle assessment of the roadways around the property. Combined, these studies and assessments will help the county and property owner better understand the best use for the property and what work is needed to prepare the site for redevelopment. The CSPDC assisted Augusta County with the application for the VBAF Grant.

FEMA Approves CSPDC Funding for Hazard Mitigation Plan Update

On January 25 the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) notified the CSPDC of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) approval decision to source a significant portion of the Central Shenandoah Valley Hazard Mitigation Plan (CSHMP) update. The CSHMP update cost estimate is $140,000. FEMA will provide 75% in funding, the State will source a 20% match, and the CSPDC will furnish the remaining 5% cost-share requirement. FEMA is also providing an additional $7K in sub-recipient management cost funds for the effort.

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